Medieval Basketball Cards

I’ve been looking forward to seeing cards from the Excalibur brand in person. The Crusade insert set seems to be popular for both baseball and basketball collectors and has a certain nostalgia factor due to the 1998 baseball Donruss Crusade set.

I picked up a 15 card pack of 2016-17 Excalibur and I came away impressed.

excalibur03

Highlights from the base cards for me. The Pacers released Monta Ellis and I can’t say I’m upset to see him go. Eager to see Oladipo and Lance Stephenson take his role. As far as the design, I’m a fan. I much prefer shots of the players in action than just the player alone on a designed background. The Excalibur logo, font, and color schemes all look great.

excalibur01

Picked up four rookies from this pack, and these two stand out. Saric will be a solid contributor on a rising Sixers squad. I’m also never upset to pull a Spur. Is there anyone who doubts this guy is going to have a nice career? And there’s my first card of Oladipo since he’s been a Pacer. This one is a retail-only parallel.

excalibur02

Each of the Target packs have two Camo Crusade cards, on average. Enjoyed seeing a new card of the Admiral, and it’s hard to complain about pulling one of the top players in the league in Love, even if he is on the hated Cavs.

The other cards I pulled, for the set builders out there who may have interest:

10 – Gerald Green
40 – Wesley Matthews (George Hill sighting!)
excalibur04
83 – Lou Williams
117 – Willy Hernangomez RC
131 – Evan Fournier
178 – Tomas Satoransky RC

 


Pulling a Hokie, a rare event

I graduated from Virginia Tech in 2008. Hard to believe we’re closing in on ten years. I attended nearly every Hokie home basketball game during my four years at VT, and am arguably a bigger Tech basketball fan than football (although I obviously cheer for both). Buzz Williams has the program on the rise, and I’m excited to see what the program can do coming off its first NCAA Tournament appearance since I was in school.

The Hokies currently have one active NBA player who finished his career at VT (another who played for the Hokies and transferred, Dorian Finney-Smith) and generally have none, so it’s rare to see a Hokie with a basketball card for me to pickup. That one active player is Malcolm Delaney, who’s positioned himself as the backup point guard for the Atlanta Hawks, averaging just over 17 minutes per game during the 2016-17 season.

2016-17 Panini Threads Malcolm Delaney #161

When I opened a 15 card pack of 2016-17 Panini Threads after a recent trip to Target, pulling a card of Delaney wasn’t even on my radar. I had no idea he was in a current card set. Surprised and pumped are the two words to describe my mood after I found this card a little over halfway through the pack. This is the only set I’m aware of Delaney appearing in so far. I’m hopeful he’ll keep his backup point guard role and appear in more sets next season.

threads02

Here are the highlights from the rest of the base cards. Whiteside has really blossomed in Miami into a top tier player. Rodney Hood has become a key player for the Jazz, and will be especially critical with Gordon Hayward leaving in free agency. I also had to highlight the only Pacer out of the 15 card pack, Jeff Teague. I was not a fan of swapping George Hill for Teague, but now both players have moved on to other teams. Teague recently signed a deal to go to Minnesota, and the Pacers brought back Darren Collison and traded for Cory Joseph. I’m OK with the combination of players the Pacers have at the point guard spot now. Jeff never seemed to find his groove with the Pacers. Regardless, good luck in Minnesota! That is going to be an exciting team to watch.

threads01

Here are the non-base cards from the pack. I’m certainly a sucker for parallels like this Dazzle parallel, although all the variations can be a little much. Could do worse than Wesley Matthews as the pull.

The Hardwood Pioneers have Dazzle variations as well- this Gail Goodrich is the plain verison.

Here’s a complete list of the cards I pulled in case folks out there are tackling the set.

10 Tony Snell
26 JaMychal Green
40 Hassan Whiteside
55 Tyler Johnson
68 Marvin Williams
83 Rodney Hood
97 Luc Mbah A Moute
112 Jonas Valanciunas
119 Jeff Teague
136 J.J. Barea
161 Malcolm Delaney RC
184 Skal Lasissiere RC
190 Juan Hernandez RC
130 Wesley Matthews Dazzle Parallel
14 Gail Goodrich Hardwood Pioneers

I’m interested in trading for other Malcom Delaney cards from this set (parallels, autographs), as well as other Pacers from this set.


A Few Loose Packs

After deciding I was restarting my basketball collecting, a natural early step towards that was heading to the local target to pick up a couple of packs. I came away with two packs of 2016-17 Donruss and one pack of 2016-17 NBA Hoops. Here are the highlights of the packs.

1617hoops

First the best of the base cards from the Hoops pack. Sabonis is the 20 year old son of basketball legend Arvydas Sabonis. He played in the Rising Stars game for the World Team on Friday night as part of NBA All-Star weekend. He’s averaging 6.1 points per game in 21.7 minutes per game off the bench for the OKC Thunder after being the 11th overall pick in last year’s draft.

Dirk Nowitzki needs no introduction. We go from a rookie to one of the top international players of all-time. He’s averaging 20.2 points per game over his last 5.

And John Wall is having his best season yet as the Wizards have surged up the Eastern Conference standings.

1617hoops02

The insert from the first pack is a Faces of the Future card of Heat forward Justice Winslow. In my opinion this insert set would look a whole lot better if the color scheme matched the team’s uniforms.

1617donruss01

The best of the base cards from the Donruss packs. I’d be glad to pull just about any card of Anthony Davis these days. Remember when Jeremy Lin was a hot pull? I like the Donruss design a bit better than the Hoops base design.

1617donruss02

The only rookie I pulled from the two Donruss packs that was a first round selection was Siakam, the 27th pick in the draft for Toronto. As with many rookies his playing time has been inconsistent in his rookie season.

Hall Kings is an insert set I can get behind. Sharp design with multiple images of the player. Can’t recall pulling too many cards of Dantley. He did play for the Pacers during the 1977-78 season. This means I do need his autograph for my Pacers autograph collection. He was a six-time All-Star, all with the Jazz. Though his best statistical seasons were with the Jazz, he is probably pictured as a Piston because of the team’s deep playoff runs in 1987 and 1888, where they lost to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals 4-3 and in the NBA Finals to the Lakers 4-3, respectively. Just looking at the numbers for Dantley, the thing that jumps off the page to me outside of averaging over 30 ppg in four seasons, is his career field goal percentage as a small forward. 54% for his career, good for 27th best in league history. If you look at that list, though, you’ll notice most players as power fowards or centers.

Lastly we have a red press proof #’d out of 75 of Lou Williams. There’s also silver /299, purple /199, Red /25, Gold /10 and Black 1/1s. So while I got one of the rarer press proofs, I would have preferred a different player. Nice shot of Lou going in for a jam, though.

I generally like to at least sample each product that shows up in Wal-mart or Target with a pack or two. I prefer Donruss to Hoops this year and I look forward to the Optic brand to try to pick up some shiny Pacers.


Box Break: 2011-12 Panini Hoops

Panini Hoops has 8 cards per pack, 36 packs per hobby box. Each box typically contains two autographed cards per box, a glossy parallel card or two, an Artist’s proof parallel card or two, and a myriad of insert cards. Here is what Hoops Hobby pulled.


Artist’s Proof (1): Tayshaun Prince
Glossy (2): Patrick Patterson, Daniel Gibson


A Night to Remember (4): Magic Johnson, John Stockton, Dwyane Wade, Jason Terry
Action Photos (3): Kevin Love, Amare Stoudemire, Stephen Curry


Courtside (3): Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, Paul Pierce
Slam Dunk Champions (3): Kenny ‘Sky’ Walker, Josh Smith, Blake Griffin


Hall of Fame Heroes (4): Nate Thurmond, John Havlicek, David Robinson, Dolph Schayes


Hoop Dreams (1): James Harden


Autographs (2): Hasheem Thabeet, Randy Foye

Impressions:

For a sub-$50 box, Hoops delivers as advertised, providing a bunch of inserts and parallels and the two autos per box, with a shot at a nice one (Jeremy Lin, Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin, etc…)

Some of these insert sets I like and may even try to complete myself. I find I enjoy the simple set designs like ‘Hoop Dreams’ and ‘Courtside’. The Slam Dunk set and ‘A Night to Remember’ have too much going on in one card.

The autographs are underwhelming, with this box providing Hasheem Thabeet (not afraid to go ahead and label Hasheem a big bust), and bench player Randy Foye. It’s a shame these autographs aren’t on-card, but again, for a sub-$50 product, can’t complain.

Hoops appeals to the crowd that likes opening a ton of cards, pulling a ton of inserts, and loves pulling multiple cards of their favorite players. Many of the stars have multiple base cards in this release. The base cards could be used for TTM autograph collectors and in-person autographs. While the value is good for the price, the potential for this release is so high, though, and it comes as a slight disappointment to me just because of some of the insert sets being underwhelming in design. I would like to see future releases such as these modeled after the 2010-11 Donruss product, which had a similar starting price point and received more praise from collectors.


Pack Break: Panini Hoops Pack Four

Last pack of our four pack Panini Hoops break.  Here’s what we opened:

#29 Baron Davis (Knicks practice jersey)
#72 Jordan Hill
#86 Al-Farouq Aminu (Hornets jersey)
#122 Dwyane Wade
#164 Landry Fields
#179 Jameer Nelson
#225 Andrea Bargnani
#258 Kobe Bryant 

It was nice to see some big names in this last pack. As you can see in the image above, some of the base cards feature players in all-star jerseys. Although we didn’t pull any autograph in our packs, three inserts in four packs along with some star players is nothing to complain about, considering you should find autographs one in 18 packs. Hope to bring more pack/box breaks to you soon!

Also, quick reminder about our playoff survivor contest. More details coming soon!


Pack Break: Panini Hoops Pack Three

Pack three from our four pack Panini Hoops pack break. Here is what we opened in pack three:

#16 D.J. Augustin
#58 Tracy McGrady
#73 Kevin Martin
#105 Shane Battier
#147 Brook Lopez
#203 Armon Johnson
#244 Ronny Turiaf
Hall of Fame Heroes #14 David Robinson 

Three inserts in three packs thus far, can’t complain there. I would like to see these Heroes in color, though. Last pack of our small break tomorrow.


Pack Break: Panini Hoops Pack Two

Pack two of our pack break of NBA Hoops. Here’s what we found:

#25 Luol Deng
#82 George Hill
#140 Luke Ridnour
#155 Jason Smith
#197 Hakim Warrick
#204 Gerald Wallace
#239 Mehmet Okur
Slam Dunk Champion #11 Josh Smith 

Definitely a fan of the idea on the Dunk Champion insert set. Only complaint on the Josh Smith card is how small Josh Smith appears in the photo on the right. Surely there’s a better photo from that particular dunk contest that would be closer zoomed in. The result on the card above is a ton of dark, blank space. Check back tomorrow for pack three.